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Opinion: Make most of opportunities to be involved

Sept. 24, 2010

By Michael Wright
Student Body President
I would like to extend a word of thanks to all those students who participated in last week's Inaugural events. From my vantage point, I observed significant student involvement in the various activities.

On Wednesday night an event was held specifically for students - "Student Dinner with the President" - that attracted over 1,000 students.

In addition, over 10 student organizations participated in hosting a variety of activities during the week, two students spoke at the installation ceremony, and a number of students were involved in the processional.

I understand the concern about Friday's events occurring during some students' class times, but I would caution against drawing the conclusion that this decision reflects a lack of commitment to involving students in either the inauguration or university decision making processes.

Judge Starr has, from the beginning of his time at Baylor, reached out to embrace student involvement and address student concerns

One recent example of student input being utilized is the President's Scholarship Initiative announced last week.

Students rose up, provided input through a variety of mechanisms like Student Government's Issue of the Week Survey and indicated that the affordability of our education is an increasing burden.

From here student government shared this information with the administration, board of regents and President Starr and immediately began collaborating together to work towards a solution.

My friends, each of you have played a role in this scholarship initiative and although we may not immediately see the benefits, we will benefit those who follow us in the Baylor Line.

As this example shows, student involvement was pivotal in having student opinion gathered, voiced and heard.

I believe that in order to increase our involvement in the future, we must take the initiative to get involved. This may seem obvious, but as students we often get caught up in the busy day-to-day grind.

You know, all the student organization meetings, the quick run around the Bear Trail, church, Sing practice, float and of course all of our academic endeavors (which is ultimately the reason we are here).

All of this is what we call the Baylor Experience.

Another aspect of the Baylor Experience is our deep love, commitment and ownership of our university.

Baylor is a very special place and, because of this, students care deeply about her. The student body's desire to help guide Baylor is one that I admire most.

One of my goals as student body president is to increase student involvement throughout campus and doing so within more of a shared governance approach. Shared governance is a model in which different interest groups come together in order to collaborate and discuss appropriate solutions to the current issues and needs. If students want to be included in more upper-level university decisions then we need to take an active role in the current opportunities we already have in place.

This became especially apparent to me last night when I participated in an advisory committee meeting in which 15 students had been invited and only two showed up.

Issue of the Week is one way in which students can voice their opinion and play a role in the upper-level university decision making process.

Additionally, there are 29 student representatives serving on all-university committees that tackle issues regarding the calendar, parking and transportation, libraries and technology, honor code violations, and other aspects of student life. This information can be found online at www.baylor.edu/facultyhandbook.

Further, there are countless advisory committees, like the one mentioned above, that are comprised of only students.

I encourage every student to take an active role in seeking opportunities to become involved in the decision making process.

Is there room for improvement in achieving shared governance?

Absolutely, there is always room for improvement; however, let us first make the most of the opportunities we have in place and engage with our new president, Judge Starr.

Michael Wright is a senior political science major and Baylor's student body president.